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in private, and in their domestic, social, and civil relations; their religious character being a just exponent of their ecclesiastical institutions, customs, and rites. The works of Arnold, Cave, Fleury, Bingham, and many other writers, together with the Denkwürdigkeiten, the Monographs, and the History of Neander, afford ample materials for such a sketch; but to select and group in distinct outlines and just proportions is a task of peculiar difficulty. Without attempting a full portraiture, we have sought to trace a few original lineaments, leaving the reader to fill out the picture by the light and shade which his own reading may supply.
Several subjects which are discussed at length in the Primitive Church are treated more briefly in this volume, and dismissed with references to that work, that more space might be reserved for other topics.
The most important sources from which this compilation has been made have been indicated in the introduction; besides these, reference has been had to many other works, ancient and modern, which cannot be conveniently enumerated. But among these the Bibliotheca Sacra, published at Andover, deserves a distinct acknowledgment, which in its rich and varied range of articles, original and select, has not omitted the subject of Christian archæology. The author's task has been chiefly to select, arrange, translate, combine, and compress within suitable limits his materials, , from whatever source derived.
A distinction of dates has been observed throughout as far as possible, and the successive stages of the transition from the primitive to the prelatical organization of the church have been carefully noted, with the causes which occasioned this early and disastrous transition. Such data
have been frequently recorded, at the hazard of occasional repetitions. At the same time, such expressions as “the apostolical,” “the early,” “ the ancient church,” “primitive Christians,” &c., have been unavoidably used, chiefly with reference to the first three centuries of the early Christian era. When not formally stated, the dates are frequently indicated by the references made to authors and councils; among which constant care has been used to refer to the earliest and most authentic, in support and explanation of the facts and conclusions adduced. To make this kind of reference the more available, an alphabetical table of ancient councils and a chronological index are appended to this manual.
The Plan of Churches and the Chronological Index are from Rheinwald. The reader will find in the latter a valuable compend of the historical events connected with the antiquities of the church, in which the successive stages of departure from the simplicity and purity of primitive worship are distinctly stated in connection with the contempo rary authors and rulers in church and state, who were instrumental either in introducing or opposing these innovations.
The account of the religious rites of the Armenian church, from Rev. H. G. O. Dwight, missionary at Constantinople, cannot fail to interest the Christian reader, while it reveals, to him, through the dimness of a high antiquity, the customs of the primitive church.
For the same reasons, the sketch of the Nestorian church is invested with a similar interest. This is from the hands of the Rev. J. Perkins, a missionary of the A. B. C. F. M. to the Nestorians, and author of Residence in Persia among the Nestorians.
The chapter on the Sacred Seasons of the Puritans sup
plies an obvious deficiency in the history of our forefathers, and will, no doubt, be received as a valuable addition to this work, and an important contribution from a distinguished antiquary to our own ecclesiastical history.
This work was undertaken in the hope that it would, in some measure, supply a great deficiency in our ecclesiastical literature, and serve to direct the attention of the public to this neglected branch of study. Many topics of great interest, relating to the rites, institutions, and authority of the ancient church, are now the subject of earnest controversy in England and of eager inquiry in this country. Ancient Christianity is destined, in both countries, to be severely scrutinized anew, and its merits sharply contested. This consideration presents one reason among many
for offering this publication, at the present time, to the service of the public.
The views of an ancient edifice vary with every change of position on the part of the observer. Each point of observation brings out on the foreground, in bold relief, one pinnacle, and sinks and shades another: so an author's point of observation shades and groups his portraiture of the ancient church. Our stand-point is that of a decided dissenter from the dogmas and doctrines of episcopacy and prelacy respecting the government, worship, discipline, and usages of the apostolical and primitive churches. It is essentially that of Planck, of Augusti, of Neander, of Böhmer, and generally of the German archæologists, from whose works this manual has been chiefly compiled. Bingham's great work, invaluable as an auxiliary, has been freely consulted; but his point of observation directly reverses the foreground of the picture sketched by those great masters which we have sought to transfer to these pages.
Conscious of having laboured diligently to prepare a compend of this interesting branch of the history of the church, that shall be at once acceptable and useful in disclosing the sources from which the venerable institutions of our religion are derived, and in delineating the virtues of those holy men from whom they have been transmitted to us, we now commit it again, with all its deficiencies, to the charitable consideration of the public, and await in submission the result of their decision.
PHILADELPHIA, August, 1852.